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13 Webcams Reviewed

Microsoft LifeCam Show

Software

Microsoft includes its LifeCam software with the purchase of one of these webcams, which allows you to caputre still photos and video clips to use later on.

It's useful, but after a while we found ourselves wishing of the more powerful features available from Microsoft's competitors were there.

Creative, for instance, allows you to configure your webcam to act as a surveillance camera, automatically saving still images if it detects movement in the room.

As for the more playful aspect, Microsoft's selection of characters and special effects is beginning to show its age, especially when compared to some of Logitech's more innovative offerings.

Its diminutive size makes the Microsoft LifeCam Show a natural choice for laptop users. But Microsoft hasn't just made the camera very small--there are new ways of securing it, too.

On the back, a special magnetic dock allows you to swap attachments designed for different surfaces.

Three alternatives are available: there's a clip for the side of laptop screens, a pair of adhesive pads for bigger CRT monitors, and, like Logitech's QuickCam Pro For Notebooks, an 11-inch stand.


Microsoft has clearly put plenty of effort into the inside of this webcam too, which supports 2 Megapixel video and 8 Megapixel still photos.

The fact that it's got autofocus and a noise-reducing microphone means that--on paper at least--this is an excellent webcam.

Video

Based on Microsoft's solid reputation and this impressive specification, we expected top-quality images and we weren't disappointed.

As with the excellent VX-5000 and VX-5500, the Show produces clear, sharp images that give a detailed view of the person they're filming.  Movement is fluid, with no ghosting and no jerkiness.

Despite its improved sensor, the Show still suffers from the traditional problem faced by many webcams: it struggles in darker rooms.

We can only suggest you make sure you have some alternative lighting on hand, such as a table lamp.

Audio

So, all's well with the video on the Show--but what about the sound?

It's generally pretty good, but not quite as perfect as on the VX-5500.

You can make out everything that's said in a conversation, though, and ambient noise doesn't affect the quality of calls.

Microsoft LifeCam Show
PlusesMinuses
  • Small form factor
  • Great image quality
  • Easy to install
  • Short USB cable
  • Struggles in dark rooms
  • Slightly dated software
  • Microsoft's LifeCam Show is a great laptop webcam. As long as you're under good light, it gives excellent quality video and audio is as rich and clear as on other models from the manufacturer.